Birthday cards that are auto-signed and auto-mailed. Calendars that are mailed out at the beginning of the year with your logo, address, and phone number on it. E-mail newsletters that arrive in your client’s inbox once a month. What do they have in common? Each of these marketing tactics does a good job of keeping your firm’s name in front of existing clients.
Keeping quality clients and turning them into repeat business, however, requires more than repeated name recognition. It also requires an actual human being--a personal connection from either you or someone else at your firm.
Here are several suggestions for taking your client relationship expertise to the next level.
Educate Your Clients
Many people and businesses who hire engineering firms are confused with the many sub-disciplines within the field: civil, mechanical, electrical, chemical, and further subsets within those primary disciplines. If you have a client who will be investing thousands of dollars in your firm to complete a project, it might be worth investing some of your time to walk the client through not just what your firm specializes in, but how your firm fits into the overall engineering industry.
Educating a client doesn’t have to be a three-hour lecture complete with PowerPoint slides. It could be an invitation to have lunch at your office, or you visiting the client at their location for 30 minutes. The key to making this step worthwhile is doing it in-person.
Demonstrate Your Assembly Line
You wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive. Why not give your clients a quick test drive of your firm’s assembly line before starting a big project for them?
Similar to explaining how your firm fits into the overall engineering industry, giving a behind-the-scenes look at how projects proceed from start to finish need not be an all-day affair. Consider a 30-minute tour of your office while discussing how your firm takes a project from the planning and preliminary stages, through detailed design and tendering, and finally through to construction and implementation.
Introduce the client to several employees who will be working on the project. Have a manager provide a quick demonstration of your project management software by showing how a client’s documents are organized and protected, and how your firm will keep the client updated on the progress of their project.
Pick Up the Phone
Newsletters, birthday cards, and calendars (among other promotional items) aren’t inherently a poor investment of your marketing budget. The key to any client interaction, however, is to make it genuine. There’s no better way to demonstrate genuine client service than a quick phone call. A client you completed a project for three months ago will remember the two-minute phone call you make to see how they’re doing. Make it a priority to call clients at least once a year just to say hi.
Building genuine relationships with prospective and current clients will pay dividends in the future. Getting together for lunch, giving office tours, and picking up the telephone are three examples of how you can improve your firm’s client and customer service. Comment below and share how your firm builds a strong relationship with its clients.